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Dad-Tested Tips for Taking Your Son to the Art Museum

Do little boys enjoy going to the art museum? Heck yeah! Three tips for success from a dad-son duo

Luken Murphy in the Getty Center's Museum Entrance Hall

Museums are magic! Luken Murphy in the Getty Center’s Museum Entrance Hall holding a set of Art Detective Cards, which guide families on a treasure hunt through the galleries. Photo (minus creatures) courtesy of Brian Murphy

We love when you email/tweet/Instagram us photos of your visit. Recently visitor Brian Murphy sent in this Blackberry snap of his 20-month-old son Luken at Getty Center, saying they’d seen lots of art and had a great time. (That’s right, he uses a Blackberry. He’s a Classic Dad.)

In addition to all the free programs we offer for families, an unstructured day at the Museum can be so much fun, too. In honor of Father’s Day, I asked Brian to share a few of his personal tips on how to orchestrate an awesome big dude–little dude day at the museum.

Brian and Luken Murphy

Dad and son time. Brian and Luken Murphy out and about

1. See Tons of Stuff.

Brian likes to keep little visitors interested by “speed viewing” lots of different things. After taking in some of the exhibitions, making masks and hunting for art treasures in the Family Room, and checking out the Rembrandt gallery “to see why he’s so cool,” Brian and Luken took a long walk through the gardens and then checked out the spectacular views over L.A. Pretty impressive for a 20-month old.

2. Appreciate the Small Things.

No matter when you go or what you see, “there’s always something at a museum that you didn’t expect.” Keep your eye out for unusual artworks, views, or moments you’ll want to remember. “Keep your head on swivel.” Let your son find what’s magical for him.

3. Take the Experience Home.

And the real secret to having a great day with your son at the museum? Love it too. Be as open to the experience as you’d hope he would be, and take that with you after you leave. “From the architecture to the art hanging from the walls,” Brian said, “take the energy and inspiration from this and make sure it becomes part of your life. Always believe!”

How do you make a museum visit fun and memorable for kids? Share your ideas with other dads below, or take Brian’s lead and email us.

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Great resources for dads (and moms):

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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